Calf jackets on trial: what is right for you?

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Numerous scientific studies have shown the benefits of using calfskin coats during the colder winter months.

In addition to improving weight gain in young calves who are not yet able to regulate their own body temperature, they can provide calves with more energy to fight infections.

But with so many products on the market today, how do you decide which one to use?

We did a trial run on my family farm in Shropshire to separate the good from the bad and the mediocre.

See also: Bottles and feeders for trial calves

Although we weigh our dairy calves every fortnight, we didn’t think it would be scientifically sound to compare growth rates. This is because we only tried one or two jackets from each company

Instead, we looked at the following key areas:

  • Robustness (each jacket has been machine washed after each use)
  • Adjust
  • How easy they were to put on and how well they stayed in place

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what is on the market. For example, the Equifleece jackets were out of stock for a long time, so we couldn’t test them.

Here is the verdict of our three calf farmers:

1. OHG calfskin coats Best quality price report

Best value for money: OHG calfskin coat © MAG / Rhian Price

These come with durable metal buckles and adjustable straps, which means they can be easily adapted to small calves.

The waist straps cross for a perfect fit and the two adjustable thigh straps are secured with plastic clips.

They are made of a very durable and waterproof material (210 denier) and contain 200g padding which is very warm.

The most recent update includes a neck cover that can be folded up. We went for the small size, but the coat was a bit tight so if you have Holsteins I would choose the larger size. Very competitive price.

Verdict: 4.5 / 5 Best value for money

Price: Available in small (70cm) and large (80cm). Wash at 40C. De Witter Farm Supplies, Crewe (Tel: 01270 252001). £ 19.50 per jacket excluding VAT (offers available for multiple purchases).

2. DeLaval

DeLaval calfskin coat

DeLaval calfskin coat © MAG / Rhian Price

These are like the runway equivalent of Chanel for dairy calves – one of the prettiest jackets on the market. But unfortunately, they are not very practical.

One tore in the first week and the velcro style ties caught the hair and straw so they didn’t stay together very well.

Of all the jackets we tried, the calves seemed to stick out the most and it was difficult to determine which direction they were going up, although it was really quick to attach the suspenders.

After a few washes, the diapers visibly deteriorated and lost their thickness. Only water repellent with a finely lined fleece underlay.

Verdict: 2/5

Price: Available in two sizes – small and standard, both at £ 22 excluding VAT. Wash at 30C. Dairy litter, Bicton Heath. Phone. : 01 743 850 951

3. Cozy calf Editor’s Choice

Cozy calfskin coat

The editorial staff’s favorite, the Cozy Calf coat © MAG / Rhian Price

These have been used on the farm for years and are very popular. The manufacturer enjoys a long service life and that is exactly what you get with these jackets.

The chest straps have easy to adjust plastic clips and the chest strap is a small velcro style area (a slight weakness) with a plastic clip on top.

The waders are elasticated but also come with an adjustable metal clip and are very durable compared to other elasticated waders we have tried.

There is plastic coating on the neck to prevent chafing. The outer shell is a thick, durable polyester fabric that is water repellent, and these coats can be washed at a higher temperature than others.

Verdict: 4.5 / 5 Editor’s choice

Price: Wash at 50C. Available in large and small sizes for Jerseys and Holsteins. £ 22 each excluding VAT.

cosycalf.co.uk/vestes-calf/

4. British milk

Britmilk calfskin coat

Britmilk calfskin coat © MAG / Rhian Price

All adjustable straps are made from heavy duty metal hooks and eyelets for the stomach and neck and there are two dog clips for the leg straps.

One calf feeder noted that metal tongs, while sturdier, are more difficult to put back into place when weighing calves than plastic tongs. But, on the bright side, you’re hoping the metal would last longer.

Thinner material compared to OHG mantle, but still a good item.

Verdict: 4/5

Price: £ 25 excl.VAT plus postage (postage included for orders over 10). Available in small (65cm neck to tail) and large (72cm) sizes.

5. Kerbl calfskin coat

Kerbl calfskin coat

Kerbl calfskin coat © MAG / Rhian Price

We have had these coats for a long time, but other coats have abandoned them. Made from polyester and polyurethane, they are very thin compared to their competition.

The neck is attached with a hook and loop style velcro, which does not stick well. There is only one waist loop (plastic) and the two leg loops are also plastic. The plastic straps are all adjustable.

It claims to maintain heat through a layer of foam and is water resistant (up to 5,000mm), but we thought they didn’t offer much protection for our calves in hutches.

They might be better suited for a hosted system.

Verdict: 2/5

Price: Wash at 40C, £ 30 excl.VAT

gloucesterfarmsupplies.co.uk/kerbl-premium-calf-jackets/

6. Wynnstay

Wynnstay calfskin coat

Wynnstay calfskin coat © MAG / Rhian Price

Very similar in design to the Cozy Calf coat, however, they feel much slimmer. Easy to put on and take off with adjustable plastic straps.

However, the waders are made of a stretchy nylon material but are not adjustable. We found that we had to tie them up so that they fit fairly well.

In addition, the suspenders frayed after washing, which has not happened with Cozy Calf jackets.

Verdict: 3/5

Price: Wash at 30C. Available in small (70cm, £ 20 plus VAT) and large (80cm, £ 23 plus VAT) at Wynnstay (discounts available on bulk orders).

7. Animac calfskin coat

Animac calfskin coat

Animac calfskin coat © MAG / Rhian Price

It’s a sturdy coat that goes well. There are two abdominal straps and adjustable leg straps that clip together using plastic clips, while the front attachment is a mix of hooks and loops and plastic clips.

To avoid mixing the ventral straps and crossing them over the gray changes to gray and black to black (clever little design).

The exterior is made of a very durable polyester, which is waterproof, but the waders have started to fray a bit. The leg straps can be adjusted if you have longer pets.

Verdict: 4/5

Price: Available in four sizes (small for twins, 56cm; Jersey, 60cm, Large Holstein, 70cm and extra large beef 80cm). Wash at 40C. £ 22 excluding VAT. Discounts available on bulk orders

animac-wear.com/collections/calf-jacket/products

8. Carrs Billington calfskin jacket

Carrs Billington calfskin coat

Carrs Billington calfskin coat © MAG / Rhian Price

All plastic, adjustable straps. Outer layer waterproof up to 3000mm of rain and 200 gram quilted padding.

We used a large (76cm) but there are also medium (70cm) and small (60cm). The large size was big enough for our Holstein calves so I would recommend taking a smaller size.

Overall a good, thick and sturdy coat.

Price: £ 20 plus VAT, available from Carrs Billington

Verdict: 4/5


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